The city of Española’s Planning and Zoning Commission was on the ball May 9 when it voted unanimously to deny Edward Hunter’s request for a use exception for a commercial building. We eye suspiciously Hunter’s request, since he’s on the Commission.
Putting that aside, Hunter in January 2018 received a variance to construct a 40-feet by 60-feet, 18-feet high metal building on his property on North McCurdy Road. Both sides of McCurdy Road are zoned residential and for good reason: the road is lined with homes.
At the time the variance was granted a neighbor expressed concern about a business being operated from the building.
So a large metal building is not something Hunter’s neighbors would care to gaze upon during their morning coffee but at least there’s no increased traffic, noise or pollution.
Española City Planning Director Allison Gillette, a planner at the time, recommended awarding the variance. Her recommendation was based on property size, building size, set backs and personal use.
But now Hunter came before his associates to ask for a further indulgence. This one probably would come with increased noise and pollution, possibly traffic too, but not to excess.
Hunter wants to put a powder coating shop in the large metal building. Powder coating is a dry process where an electrostatically charged powder is shot at prepared metal that is grounded. The powder sticks to the metal and is then baked at very high temperatures to make the powder flow. it results in a finish much harder than regular auto paint.
The Commission’s recent completion and efforts to implement the master plan were in full public view the evening of Hunter’s request. The master plan is self explanatory, it is the blueprint to a better Española. Abiding by it and enforcing it are the cornerstones to change.
Allowing Hunter the exception does several things. First it goes against the master plan. Second sets a precedent, opening the door for others to put commercial buildings in residential areas and most important, it sends a message that the Commission takes care of its own.
Commission Parliamentarian Erle Wright led the Commission in the right direction, all voting to deny Hunter the permit.
There are many empty lots scattered around Española where a commercial business may be operated. We must get away from placing homes in industrial park areas and commercial businesses in residential areas. Nobody’s special, nobody gets a variance.
Just because you own property doesn’t mean you get to use it outside of zoning restrictions. The Commission did its job well. We hope it continues to adhere to the master plan and as Wright said during the meeting, the Commission should reverse the precedent set by previous commissioners who allowed business owners to operate in residential areas.